Jordan Sanders scores a game-high 18 points, and the Cougars snap a seven-game skid that lasted a month.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / FILE - Jordan Sanders scored 18 points to lead the Canby boys basketball team in a 56-50 overtime win over Oregon City at home Feb. 14. Above, the senior forward makes a move at Clackamas.The losses were starting to weigh on the Canby boys basketball team.

The Cougars had been competitive throughout the regular season, even challenging some of the best programs in the state late in games, but they had no wins to show for their efforts.

It’s why they felt an enormous sense of relief after defeating Oregon City 56-50 in overtime at home Feb. 14.

“More than being just a mark on our record, a win was what we needed mentally,” senior forward Jordan Sanders said. “Everybody in the league respected us after all of our close games, but now our team is hungrier than ever.”

For Canby (8-11, 1-6 in the Three Rivers League), the triumph snapped a seven-game skid that lasted an entire month. The team hadn’t won since Jan. 10 in a preseason game against Portland-Grant.

What followed that victory was a devastating stretch for the Cougars. Aside from a blowout loss to second-ranked Clackamas on the road Feb. 4, they were in contention for wins in every game but couldn’t turn the tides in their favor.

They fell to Portland-Westview by three points in their nonconference finale. They lost by six in back-to-back road games against Lake Oswego and Oregon City (11-9, 2-5). Then Lakeridge beat them by 11. Defending state champion West Linn topped them by nine. And the Lakers swept the season series with a seven-point win Feb. 11.

Canby again appeared in trouble in the second half against the Pioneers, mustering just 18 points in the final two quarters and settling for overtime after building up a 28-21 halftime lead.

But the Cougars rallied in the extra period, outscoring Oregon City 10-4.

“I think the main difference in overtime was just our will to win, honestly,” Sanders said. “We needed that win on our home court, and we knew what we had to be done, and I had complete confidence at the end of regulation that we were going to pull together to get the win.”

Sanders stepped up with a game-high 18 points to lead Canby, which had valuable contributions from several other players. Junior guard Jace Cates scored 14 points, sophomore guard Austin Evans added nine and senior guard Austin Taylor had eight. Senior teammates Trey Bellmore and A.J. Schlatter combined for seven.

Their performances outweighed a productive Pioneers trio of Briggs Young (17 points), Brad Martin (14) and Austin DeWitz (10).

The Cougars also turned in one of their best defensive outings of the season, holding an opponent to 50 points or fewer for the first time since Dec. 26. They also controlled the glass.

“Being the smallest team in the league, rebounds are one of our most difficult problems, and in this game we outworked them on the boards,” Sanders said.

Of course, the win over Oregon City doesn’t mean things will get easier for Canby, which was scheduled to face Lakeridge on the road at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18. It will then wrap up its conference slate with games against West Linn (on the road Feb. 21) and Clackamas (at home Feb. 25), the two highest-ranked teams in the state.

“We are still a force to be reckoned with,” Sanders said. “We know the level we need to play at in this league, and I truly believe that the rest of the season is going to be a lot different.”

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Canby 56, Oregon City 50 (OT)

Feb. 14 at Canby High School

1          2          3          4          OT       F

Oregon City 8          13        14        11        4 — 50

Canby 18        10        11        7          10 — 56

Oregon City (50): Briggs Young 17, Brad Martin 14, Austin DeWitz 10, Trevon Bradford 7, Chris Mengis 2.

Canby (56): Jordan Sanders 18, Jace Cates 14, Austin Evans 9, Austin Taylor 8, Trey Bellmore 5, A.J. Schlatter 2.

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